Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

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Fat Trel is the D.C. artist of the year, and it isn’t close. With Young Jeezy tempos and Gucci Mane zingers weaned on Jay-Z’s discography, Trel benefitted from an overload of raw talent; a savvy early buy-in to Instagram’s potential that helped assemble a digital youth coalition of the illing; and a short-lived affiliation with Wale’s Board Administration imprint at the height of Wale’s influence that shielded Trel from the block-to-block beefs that have historically stalled many a local hip-hopper.

His mixtape Nightmare on E Street arrived to nods from Spin and Pitchfork in April, but lacked the focus and instant stick of 2010’s knee-capping favorite No Secrets. That didn’t matter—nerds expected a rapper’s delight classic that would turn into a placeholder rap release on hipsters’ year-end lists. E Street was, instead, a vehicle for branding Trel as a hilarious, acid-tongued performer who routinely soundtracks bus rides to public school and Geno Smith’s pre-game locker room pump-ups.